Discover more from Sailing Avemar
Hampton, VA to Stuart, FL
Avemar said goodbye to Scott on SV AKA and slipped her lines at Dandy Haven Marina at 1000 on Friday, 10/28/22 and then motored out of a very skinny channel after having repaired the prop shaft that became disconnected from the transmission coupling a few days earlier when coming into the marina.
Winds were 17 knots from the north. One reef was in the main and one reef was in the staysail. We sailed to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and then turned on the motor to navigate over the tunnel and to stay out of the way of several large ships passing through at the same time.
At 1520 that afternoon, I hove to and pulled down a second reef in the main as the winds had jumped into what I estimate was the high-20 knot range. This is an estimate because the B&G decided to stop working again.
We were finally off! Or, so I thought…
As I sat down in the captain’s chair to enjoy the downhill ride, I leaned back into the solar panel. The solar panel wasn’t supposed to be at the deck level.
The mount above, on the stern had broken and the solar panel was hanging on by one fitting.
I repaired it with duct tape and zip ties.
Zip ties and duct tape become common themes of this trip.
Avemar turned South and sailed past Virginia Beach, then ran on a deep reach along the coast overnight and rounded Cape Hatteras at 0720 on Saturday morning.
That afternoon I heard a chatter coming from the WindPilot self steering vane and upon inspection, I saw that a large bolt had worked its way out and had apparently disappeared into the water. I had just inspected the vane and tightened the bolts a week before when I was in Annapolis!
Two very long zip ties were added to hold things in place until we arrived in Florida to find a bolt large enough to fit and fix the problem.
The B&G wind instrument decided to start working again at sunrise and we gybed in 26 knot winds and sailed a straight course all day and night, arriving off of Wilmington, NC at sunrise on Sunday morning.
Predict Wind updated the preferred route and so Avemar turned to cross the Gulf Stream to avoid a developing hole with very light winds along the coast with a plan to catch a new NE wind on the eastern side of the current to continue South.
Winds were still strong, in the 33 knot range, but the swells were manageable, staying between 10 and 12 feet with a decent period so it wasn’t too hard on the boat or me as we crossed the Gulf Stream.
By mid-morning on Monday we were across and Avemar was met with a pod of several dozen small bottlenose dolphins that swam alongside for about 45 minutes. I had never seen dolphins with pink bellies. They were jumping in front of the boat and having a good time while the larger dolphins swam in the bow wake.
On Tuesday morning the wind dropped significantly and Predict Wind suggested an updated route back across the Gulf Stream to the West to catch new wind that had developed near Savannah, along the coast and re-routing us that way to avoid a new hole to the South on the eastern side of the Gulf Stream.
We sailed back across the Gulf Stream and went through three squalls early in the morning.
Once they were behind us the sun popped out, a rainbow appeared behind us and it warmed up significantly!
After a few hours, the wind died we motor sailed in 6 knots of wind on the stern and with 2.5 knots of current on the nose. It was a low mileage day but we made it across, the second time, very late on Tuesday night.
The wind had picked up again to about 19 knots from the SSE very early on Wednesday morning by sunrise it dropped to less than 5 knots.
We motored again. A small yellow bird joined the crew. The wind clocked around to the NW by noon and we briefly sailed down the West side of the Gulf Stream.
Late Wednesday evening we were drifting around again,. Before starting the engine I changed both Racor fuel filters and switched from the nearly empty aft fuel tank to the full, forward tank.
We motored until about 9AM on Thursday morning and the wind began to build enough to sail which we did until it died again right after sunset.
I started the engine and when I put Avemar in gear, there was no forward movement. The prop shaft had slipped out of the collar on the back of the transmission again!
I emptied the port cockpit locker into the cabin floor below and then climbed down inside. I grabbed a pipe wrench to grip the shaft and stop it from spinning. Immediately as the teeth touched the spinning shaft, the wrench was ripped out of my hand and down it went into the deep bilge.
A second pipe wrench on the shaft, after I stopped it using my hand and a thick rubber glove, managed to grip the shaft. The turning shaft then wedged the wrench against the side of the boat and stopped the spinning.
For good measure, lots of Duct tape kept the pipe wrench in place and the whole contraption kept the shaft from sliding out the hole in the back of the boat.
While I was upside down below decks in the dark, the boat gybed. As I came up to get the sails trimmed and the boat back on course, the headsail became incredibly wrapped around the forestay.
There were 93 miles to our destination and so we sailed with a full mainsail and full staysail and a partially rolled up headsail with a ballooning top that didn’t wrap up completely.
It was a noisy night!
We arrived off of the St. Lucie Inlet around 10 am on Friday morning and with no motor and a flapping headsail, I called TowBoat US. They met us in the ocean just offshore from the inlet channel markers
After discussing the situation we decided that I should sail into the inlet since there were 6-8 foot seas on the outside and it would be difficult to tow me in with the headsail in that condition.
Once inside and in calm water, TowBoat US connected to the bow and pulled Avemar into Manatee Pocket. We stopped and adjusted the lines for a hip tie to get me into the slip at the marina but during that maneuver the headsail came loose even more and it was deemed too unsafe to put me in the slip in that condition.
Avemar dropped anchor within sight of the marina while the TowBoat went to to inspect the approach and figure out how to get me safely in to my slip. While they were gone, somehow I managed to drop the headsail to the deck and get it tied off.
TowBoat US returned, hip tied to Avemar again and drove me directly into the slip without any further incidents.
Avemar arrived in her slip at the marina in Manatee Pocket in Stuart, Florida on Friday at noon, exactly 7 days after we crossed from the Chesapeake Bay into the Atlantic.
All in all, it was a fine sail. The trip started with nice strong winds and fairly large seas to start and ended up being a rather boring and long ride for the second half of the trip.
A few things broke or came apart but I managed to patch everything back together along the way thanks to a good supply of tape and plastic cable ties.
April came to visit on Friday afternoon bearing gifts, dinner and a birthday cake. I think I fell into a deeply needed chocolate cake induced sleep coma sometime around 2200 hours. We spent the weekend celebrating my birthday, starting with breakfast in Stuart and then a wonderful dinner and dueling pianos at a restaurant called Mickey’s Downtown Bistro in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, ice cream and of course… Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Predict Wind routing added two unnecessary days to the adventure by sending us across the Gulf Stream one day and then back across in the opposite direction, and almost the exact same track, the next day.
The longest 24 hour run of the week was 162 nautical miles from noon on 11/28/22 to noon on 11/29/22. The total trip mileage was 843 nautical miles.
Update on the bird…
The bird stayed on the boat for about 24 hours, mainly sleeping in a protected spot behind the binoculars in the binnacle cup holder. At some point I saw the bird fly down below and into the cabin. I searched a few times and couldn’t find it anywhere. That night around 3 am I got hungry and cooked a huge breakfast. The next morning I found the bird unresponsive below oven. I guess it found a new hiding spot to rest under the propane burners. It didn’t make it through breakfast.
Where to? Stuart, Florida
Where from? Hampton, VA (37° 05.609’ N 76° 17.880’ W)
Anchor weighed: 1000 on 10/28/22
Where did I end up? Stuart, FL (27° 08.808’ N 80° 11.745’ W)
Docked: 1200 on 11/04/22
Sailing distance? 843 nm
Total miles since November 2021: 4331.89 nm
Avemar sailing downwind across the Gulf Stream for the second time, from East to West towards Savannah.
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